September 2, 2007
BOSTON (TICKER) -- In the heat of a pennant race and his team mired in a four-game losing streak, rookie righthander Clay Buchholz gave the Boston Red Sox a huge lift.
In just his second major league start, Buchholz threw a no-hitter to lead the Red Sox to a 10-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
Not only did Buchholz's gem stop a slide, it helped Boston maintain a five-game lead over the New York Yankees in the American League East.
Buchholz, who turned 23 on August 14, threw the third no-hitter this year - all in the American League - and first since the Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander accomplished the feat on June 12 against the Milwaukee Brewers.
"I don't even have a word for it, I was so excited and ecstatic about everything and the way everything boiled down to that moment and being out there," Buchholz said. "It was, you'd think we won a World Series or something, but it was an incredible moment in my life and one that I will never forget."
"I think that was about as nervous and excited as a lot of us have been in a long time," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "That was something to see."
Buchholz (2-0) only was pitching due to a back injury to Tim Wakefield, who was scratched from his start Friday night. Saturday's scheduled starter, Julian Tavarez, was moved up a day to take Wakefield's spot, opening the door for Buchholz to make history.
''It was probably the third inning of our game (Friday) night in Pawtucket," said Buchholz of when he learned he would be starting. "I had to gather all my stuff up and get up here last night, couldn't really sleep well, got up early, had some breakfast and tried to get ready for the game."
Wilson Alvarez of the Chicago White Sox was the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his second major league start - also against the Orioles on August 11, 1991. It also was the first no-hitter by a Boston pitcher since Derek Lowe against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on April 27, 2002, and the 17th in franchise history.
"It's been fun to watch," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. "Very proud of the organization, from the scouts who recommended him and player development staff who worked with him up to the major league staff."
The last pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the National League was Anibal Sanchez of the Florida Marlins on September 6, 2006.
Sanchez, ironically, went to the Marlins from the Red Sox in a trade for Josh Beckett. He was 22 at the time of his no-hitter.
Rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia preserved the no-hitter with a spectacular defensive play in the seventh inning.
Miguel Tejada bounced a pitch over Buchholz's head that appeared headed into center field, but Pedroia made a diving stop as he sprawled onto the outfield grass, got up and just got beat Tejada's headfirst slide into the first base bag.
"Whenever I jumped up and missed that ball, I was thinking it is over and then (Pedroia) comes out of nowhere and probably one of the best plays I've seen in 10 years," Buchholz said. "Whenever he made that play I knew something was meant to happen tonight."
Center fielder Coco Crisp probably had the best view of Pedroia's magnificent play and almost could not believe was he saw.
"I thought he had no chance at it and in that situation you just have to dive for it," Crisp said. "He dove and he shocked me. I thought he was going to flip it to (shortstop Julio) Lugo since his back was to first base, but he came around and fired it over there."
In the eighth inning, Buchholz stabbed a comeback by Jay Payton for the final out, putting him at 102 pitches.
''Well the adrenaline was running and I don't think I had many emotions," Buchholz said. "I sort of tried to zone everything out but it's sort of hard with 40,000 people screaming everytime you throw."
With the Fenway Park crowd on its feet and the count 1-2, Buchholz got Markakis on a slow breaking ball for a called strike three, setting off a delirious celebration among his teammates.
"Whenever I couldn't throw a fastball for a strike, I was able to come back with changeups and other breaking pitches for strikes and keep the hitters off-balance," Buchholz said.
"He was staying in the strike zone with his breaking ball where he got some strikes," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "There were a lot of pitches that we swung at that weren't strikes, but you can do that when you throw strike one; when you throw strike one it opens up that plate and that's what he did."
Buchholz finished with nine strikeouts and three walks. He threw 115 pitches - 73 for strikes - to help the Red Sox snap a four-game losing streak and remain five games ahead of the New York Yankees for the American League East lead.
"He established his fastball enough and his off-speed was devastating," Francona said.
Buchholz started the ninth by striking out Brian Roberts - his eighth of the game - and retired Corey Patterson on a line drive to Crisp, bringing Nick Markakis to the plate.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Posted by David Kaye at 6:20 AM